Dementia is a decline in cognitive activities, such as memory, judgment, reasoning, and decision-making abilities, according to eMedicine Health. When you find out your loved one has dementia, you may feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, sad and/or angry. These are normal reactions to finding out that your loved one has dementia. In fact, your loved one is likely experiencing similar emotions. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your loved one deal with dementia, helping him or her stay independent as long as possible.
Establish Routine: Some individuals with dementia have a difficult time remembering if they have done something already. Sit down with your elderly loved one and talk about what he or she does everyday. Next, write out a daily routine with your loved one so that he or she can have a plan to follow each day. For instance, a morning routine might look something like: wake up, get out of bed, brush my teeth, have a shower/bath, get dressed, take medication, prepare breakfast, and eat breakfast. It may sound silly, but helping your loved one establish a very specific routine will help him or her stay independent as long as he or she can. Write the schedule or routine out and have your loved one put it in a place he or she will see it often.
Write Down All Appointments, Birthdays, and Other Important Dates: In the early stages of her dementia, my grandmother found it very helpful to write down all of her family and friends’ birthdays on her calendar. She kept her calendar in a place that she saw often so that she could see whose birthday was coming up soon. Similarly, you can help your loved one deal with his or her dementia by getting him or her a large desk calendar where he or she can write all of his or her family and friends’ birthdays, all of the appointments one has, and any activities one may want to attend.
Desk calendars are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at office supply stores, such as Office Depot or Staples.
Help With Medication: Another area in which you can help your elderly loved one deal with dementia is by helping him or her with his or her medications. Your loved one may take blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, heart, or other medications that are important to his or her health. Individuals in the early stages of dementia may be able to utilize a pillbox along with a written schedule to take their medication. You can fill a pillbox for your loved one every week with the appropriate medication so that he or she is more likely to remember to take his or her meds. Additionally, you can put “take your medication” on the written schedule you and your loved one write out at the appropriate times. Pillboxes may be purchased at drug stores like Walgreen’s and department stores like Wal-Mart or Target. Pillboxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that meets your loved one’s needs.
For instance, Wal-Mart offers the VitaCarry Multi Day Pill Case Vitamin & Medicine Carrier with Electronic Reminder, which may help your loved one remember to take his or her medications at the appropriate times. With this specific pill organizer, you are able to set up to seven different daily alarms that will either vibrate, sound, or light up the pill case if your loved one misses a medication dose. You may purchase this pill case from the Wal-Mart website for approximately $25.
Preparing Meals: If your loved one begins to experience problems with preparing his or her own meals, you could help him or her by preparing meals for your loved one. Once or twice a week, you could go over to your loved one’s home and cook in bulk for him or her, freezing the meals in portion-appropriate sizes in different containers. You could then make a list of what you have prepared for your loved one and put it on the refrigerator so that he or she knows what choices he or she has for meals.
Paying the Bills: Another way you can help your elderly loved one deal with dementia is by helping him or her set up auto-pay for the bills they have to pay on a regular basis. These bills may include the mortgage or rent, cable or satellite, electricity, gas, water, trash, cell phone, and/or home telephone and Internet services. You could go to the companies’ websites if your loved one does not have a computer or the Internet and set up auto-pay with your loved one’s permission. This way neither you nor your loved one will have to worry about paying each of these bills every month because it will automatically be done.
A diagnosis of dementia can be difficult for both the individual who receives it and for his or her family and friends. Utilizing these tips will help you and your loved one cope with dementia and stay independent as long as he or she is able.
Psychiatry 24 x 7: Dementia: Coping with Dementia:
Aging Parents Authority: The Premier Resource for Anyone Taking Care of the Elderly: 7 Strategies for Coping with Early Dementia:
Wal-Mart: VitaCarry Multi Day Pill Case Vitamin & Medicine Carrier with Electronic Alarm:
Alzheimer’s Society: After A Diagnosis:
eMedicine Health: Dementia Overview: